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  Martinsville High School Alumni
Class of 1974 Reply  |   Post Message  |   Message List
45 Years Ago Today: JFK and Patrick Henry Elementary - 19
11/22/08     David Young  (1973)      BYoung1441@aol.com
My parents were big JFK supporters, so, consequently, I thought of him as one of my first heroes. In this day and age, when the President is on the TV addressing the nation, most people say, "yeah, big deal, what ELSE is on?" Remember the early 60s, though? A Presidential address on TV meant EVERYTHING STOPPED. Guess it was just the nature of things then, with the Cold War, anxiety left over from the Cuban Missle Crisis, etc.

Like the rest of the class of '73, I was in the third grade on 11/22/63, at good ol' Patrick Henry Elementary. We came off the playground, and the normal procedure was to take a rest room break and then finish the afternoon in the classroom. This day, however, our teacher made us sit down. Mrs. Stone told us that a terrible thing had happened....President Kennedy had gone to Dallas to make a speech, and had been shot (I remember immediately having a visual image of the man actually giving a speech at a podium and suddenly collapsing mid sentence). She said that there was a radio on in the principal's office (funny, I can still remember what that radio sounded like down the hall), that we did not know yet what his condition was, we would have to wait and see, hope for the best, etc.

We took our rest room break, and I was standing in the doorway of our classroom with our teacher. A first grade teacher (oddly enough, my wife Betty's first grade teacher....she was two years younger, and we did not meet until high school) walked up and simply said, "He's dead."

I remember the rest of the day being sort of upside down. My dad and I had planned on going to the community center by the old high school to do some swimming in their indoor pool, and we followed through on that plan immediately after school. That big pool, and there were only three people there.....me, my dad, and the lifeguard. Swimming in dead silence with only the sound of a little bit of splashing, no conversation, just a feeling of being stunned.

Went to bed that night scared....it seemed like everything was wrong.

Many of you remember that my dad was the minister at Holy Trinity Lutheran, so we were always the last people to leave the church on Sundays. Consequently, two days later, my mom and I were upstairs changing out of our Sunday clothes when my dad came charging up the steps yelling "they shot Oswald! They shot Oswald!" I am the only person I know who was alive then and did not see it live.

A quick side story. When I was getting my Masters at Georgia State, I had an Associate professor who was in the Army at that time, stationed in Korea. Because of the time difference, it was breakfast time over there. In the US, we had no idea, of course, that we had just ramped up to the highest possible military alert immediately after JFK had been shot (could have been an invasion, or God knows what). He said they were going through the chow line, getting their oatmeal, in FULL BATTLE GEAR, with rifles, bayonets attached and unsheathed, in their hands. They were ready to go at a second's notice.

Anyone else have any memories of November 22,1963, which was 45 years ago today?
11/24/08     Robert Anderson  (1974)      robertandrob@aol.com
Re: 45 Years Ago Today: JFK and Patrick Henry Elementary
Clear as a bell.
Of all the days to have gotten out of school early to go to the dentist's office of all places.
I made the short walk home from PH Elementary. I remember hearing the news on the car radio as my mother drove us uptown.
At age 7, it was tough to grasp. I was watching TV that Sunday when Ruby shot Oswald, and my parents sent me outside to play. I think my folks still have the Life Magazine issue that covered the assassination.
The year 1968 made a more lasting impression, even though at 12 there was no full comprehension of the events. For those who are interested in a dispassionate historical account of '68, I would suggest reading "1968, The Year the Dream Died" by Jules Witcover.
12/02/08     Jeff Belcher  (1976)      jrb@lee-mcshane.com
Re: 45 Years Ago Today: JFK and Patrick Henry Elementary
It is amazing. I was five years old, three days short of my sixth birthday, I was playing with my little girlfriend Diane Williams (class of 1974) and her grandmother told us. I ran home crying, because everyone else was crying. My parents were sitting at the kitchen table putting "green stamps" into the books (remember those at the grocery store?). It was a very sad time and one we will never forget.
05/11/09     Becky Eaton  (1974)      RE812@hotmail.com
Re: 45 Years Ago Today: JFK and Patrick Henry Elementary
I was staying after school(Druid Hills Elementary) with Lou Wampler and her mom, Mrs. Wampler, my 1st and 2nd grade teacher, for a play date. Mrs. Wampler approached us on the playground, visibly upset, and told us that President Kennedy had been killed. Years later it was Mrs. Wampler who told me at school that JFK's brother Robert had been shot while campaigning for president. Both were surreal and difficult times to understand in my young life.
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